Wednesday 27 Oct
What does it mean to be as "shrewd as a snake and as innocent as a dove" for these believers?
"We are currently traveling through the book of Matthew in our weekly online Bible study with the women leaders, at their request. It has been a great journey together where we are getting greater insight into their worldview and context, while developing relationships of trust between each of them and us. (It is also fabulous language learning for me!)
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Today we were looking at Matthew 10 where Jesus sends out the disciples as “sheep among wolves”.
Within my own context these words don’t really mean much. In our age of tolerance, it is totally fine for me to have my own faith beliefs. And as long as I am not an obnoxious idiot, I am unlikely to be devoured.
In contrast, for our staff to hold a faith other than the local majority religion, it is quite dangerous. Our team's approach has been to encourage believers who have come to faith in Jesus to remain within their families and communities so that they may carefully continue to witness within their relationships of trust. If they speak publicly about their faith they would at best be socially ostracised and estranged from their family. We don't talk about worst case scenarios.
So this “sheep among wolves” analogy is quite relevant for them.
Next, the leader asked about what Jesus meant when He instructed the disciples to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (10:16). They answered, “snakes are alert, careful and watchful. It is not easy to catch a snake” and “doves are peaceful”.
This was so different from what I had in my head. From a limited persecution context, I think more of shrewdness being on the attack in clever ways. But not there. Alertness, carefulness, even camouflage as part of the snake’s shrewdness, plus the peace-ability of doves.
Then as we wrapped up, two of the ladies piped up about how good and essential the study was. They were deeply encouraged by this passage, like Jesus was speaking directly to them. It was beautiful to witness their joy as they went out as alert, peacemaking sheep."
Lisa, South Asia team member